5 Tips for Killer Visuals: Storytelling’s Silent Partner

5 Tips for Killer Visuals: Storytelling’s Silent Partner

Words are powerful. But in a world where we are inundated by words—both written and spoken—94% of people feel overwhelmed by too much information. Visuals break through the clutter and draw people in by their beauty and simplicity. They’re the perfect tool to accelerate employee understanding of your company’s messaging.

Gagen’s research into storytelling activation revealed that visuals help improve comprehension up to 400%, making the message 45% more memorable. Even more important, a visually-driven story motivates listeners up to 40% more than text alone, making visuals a powerful storytelling tool for organizations.

Here are some tips on using visuals to better activate your corporate story.

Evoke emotions with imagery. Emotional stories inspire. They connect. They move people into action. Emotional stories are proven to trigger 47% more oxytocin (a brain chemical that inspires trust) than factual stories alone. By leading with impactful visuals, your stories will resonate better emotionally with employees. (Our previous post 5 Unexpected Benefits of Emotional Storytelling explains more about emotion in story activation.)

Select imagery that’s relatable. Employees must be able see themselves in the story. Imagery should look and feel authentic to the organization.

Use symbols. Symbols are visual shorthand. As research in the emerging field of behavioral communications reveals, the simplicity of symbols help cut through resistance to narrative processing. (See our previous posts, 6 Ways Employees Resist Your Message – How to Win Them Over, part 1 and part 2.) Employees can more easily remember key aspects of visually-driven messaging including their emotional responses, improving retention.

Use repetition. People need to encounter a message multiple times and in different ways before it sinks in. Visual cues help to do this without feeling repetitious or overloading people unnecessarily.

Tell a story through infographics. Infographics are popular for good reason: they quickly convey ideas and data in an illuminating, appealing way. Take, for example, Gagen’s infographic on unlocking the power of storytelling. It packs a lot of research into an easy-to-follow visual narrative. The visual is fun, it’s memorable, and it helps readers understand the information at a deeper level.

Exelon Corporation offers a great case-in-point in using visuals brilliantly. When Exelon merged with Constellation Energy, they became the largest integrated energy provider in the U.S. This required a new technology infrastructure to ensure reliability, scalability and speed of service. Just as importantly, however, Exelon realized a pressing need to reposition the IT function within the company to communicate their true value to the business.

First, the IT team needed to understand the IT strategy and see their role in delivering  it– less as “order takers” and more as valuable business contributors. The IT Story shares this strategic vision in bold, compelling visuals that appeal to both the rational and emotional aspects of IT’s purpose. They elevate IT and modernize it. They also served as important visual cues for leaders when they were trained on how to tell the story in their own words.

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Concurrently, we shared real-world IT employee voices to celebrate IT’s contributions, build morale and help IT employees think more expansively about their purpose:

The third component was “IT’s for you”, a multi-channel campaign targeting all 35,000 Exelon employees. Using humor, consistent visual symbols, benefits-driven messaging, and a steady cadence, this campaign introduced their new technology platform while focusing on the positive aspects of the change. Introduced with a video message from the CIO, “IT’s for you” repositioned Exelon IT in an emotional, relatable and above all consistent visual language. The power of the campaign was both immediate and sustained. (Learn more from our full case study.)